255 species of birds have been reported in this park, making it one of the best bird-watching locations in Canada
This place is for the birds!
In the Côte-Nord region of Quebec, about 20 km southwest of Baie Comeau, the Outardes River crashes into the Saint Lawrence and the Manicouagan Peninsula thrusts its nose upstream. It is an area of intense biodiversity. 255 species of birds have been recorded here… the list is long.
Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes occupies the entire western point of the peninsula. It was set up in 1986 as a non-profit charity with an ambitious mission to highlight and protect the entire area.
The Saint Lawrence River is about 50 km wide at this point. It is grand and majestic and the tides wash in and out twice a day. Whales and seals can often be spotted from shore. The sound of the water and the birds is never absent.
Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes is basically a giant sandspit. It contains eight distinct ecosystems including peat bog, red pine forest, sand dunes, miles of beaches and 500 hectors of salt marshes, the largest on the north coast. When the tide is out the marsh can extend for an extra four kilometres.
Ten kilometres of trails meander through the park with elevated observation towers and screened-in rest stops along the way. Knowledgeable, bilingual guides provide interpretation of the flora, including their medicinal properties and places in the ecosystem. An Innu culture interpretation circuit run by Mr. Wabush, a Pessamit elder, explains how indigenous people lived in the area.
We were fortunate enough to be guided by one of the park’s founding members, Denis Cardinal. Denis has been intimately associated with Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes for over three decades. He shared with us his philosophy and vision for the park and his indefatiguable enthusiasm was infectious.
Accommodation in the park is quite limited: there are five beach campsites for tents and five sites with electrical outlets for RVs as well as limited tent camping on the beach, so book early. A comfort station has hot showers and washrooms. Then there are the bird houses, which are described as “a giant bird nesting house”.
Sure enough, these clever crafty cottages are bird-themed down to the smallest detail. They have no electricity and potable water is provided in big containers. They are, however, very comfortable. Even the outhouses are comfortable! And besides, the cell signal is reasonable in the park and we picked up a really good pizza at the local “Cantine”.
Roadstories was a guest of Quebec Maritime.